Your brakes need a yearly checkup just as you would go to your doctor for a physical. Neglecting your brakes can be costly and detrimental to the overall health of your vehicle.
Brake systems over the years haven’t changed a great deal, but technology in most vehicles still has the hydraulic brake system, with anti-lock brake and ABS. And to keep the brakes lasting longer, they need periodic maintenance – and will ultimately save you money.
Common brake issues and warning signs
Here are (some) of the signs that your car’s braking system needs a check-up:
- A spongy brake pedal
- A grinding sound when you press the brake pedal
- Squealing brakes
- The car pulling to one side when you brake
- The brake warning light illuminating
- The brake pedal being hard to press
In order to maintain your brakes, it helps to know exactly which parts & components to check. No matter what car you drive, you have to pay attention to these primary players:
- Master brake cylinder – this device is responsible for taking the signal from your brake pedal and transferring pressure to each wheel. There, calipers or drum assemblies move to help slow & stop your vehicle.
- Brake fluid reservoir – this is where you’ll need to add brake fluid following brake changes, or if you need to cap off the fluid level.
- Brake lines – basically, this is the conduit for the brake fluid. Brake lines travel to each wheel and originate near the master cylinder.
- Brake rotor – a spinning disc behind your wheel, this is compressed by brake pads for the necessary stopping power.
- Brake pads – there are 2 pads per rotor, and each press against the rotor when the brake pedal is pressed.
- Calipers – located around the rotor, they’re responsible for moving the brake pads, thanks to an interior piston.
- Drum brake assembly – usually located on the rear wheels, the drum assembly uses brake shoes that move outward toward the inner surface of the drum. This friction enables the wheels to slow & stop
Bad Driving Habits – The Silent Killer of Brakes
Fluid checks, fairly regular pad inspections, and other mechanical examinations – they’re all great, and they’re all useful in some way, but they’re also helpless against the continuous onslaught of bad driving habits.